In the Days of Noah

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming [Greek, ‘presence’] of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming [Greek, ‘presence’] of the Son of man be.” —Matthew 24:36-39

FOR many years now, dating back into the eighteenth century, efforts have been made to locate and restore Noah’s ark. No definite success has crowned these efforts, although many claims have been made by searchers that they have seen the ark. The viewpoint of many of these searchers is that if the ark could actually be located it would prove, without question, the Bible’s record of the Flood, and thus increase the faith of many in the Word of God.

We are sympathetic to this viewpoint, and appreciate the zeal of the men and women who make up the expeditions which set forth in search of what may yet remain of the oldest ship in the world. But as for the authenticity of the Genesis record of the Flood we have the testimony of Jesus Christ, who, in his words quoted above, likened the days of Noah in which the Flood came upon the earth to the time of his second presence, when there would be another time of destruction, and when again the foretold vengeance of God would come upon the selfish nations of earth just preceding the establishment of his kingdom.

The Apostle Peter later confirmed the fact of the Flood, and in his lesson reminds us of Jesus’ statement concerning the “days of Noe” being like the days of the Son of man. Peter wrote, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming [‘presence’]? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”—II Pet. 3:3-6

Not only do these references to the days of Noe by Jesus and by the Apostle Peter confirm the fact of the Flood, but both these references furnish “signs,” or evidences, by which we are able to identify the days of the Son of man. The information furnished by Jesus and confirmed by Peter is unique. Jesus stressed the ignorance of the people in the days of Noe concerning the significance of the time in which they were living. Peter describes the viewpoint of those who scoff at the evidence that we are now living in the days of the Son of man by explaining that they are willingly ignorant in their statement that all things have continued as they were since creation, for they should know that a tremendous change took place in the days of Noe; that, in fact, a world came to an end—“the world that then was.”

It should be noted in these statements by Jesus and Peter that at the time of the Flood—as well as now, in the days of the Son of man—not all are ignorant of the significance of the events by which they are surrounded. Noah and his family certainly knew of the imminence of the Flood, and that it was destined to destroy the world of that day; and today, those referred to in the prophecies as “watchers” are able, by the grace of God, to read the prophecies which identify our day, and explain its meaning.

Eating and Drinking

Jesus said that in “the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the Flood came.” (Matt. 24:38,39) Jesus did not say that it was sinful to be eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage. He merely used these activities to indicate that the unbelieving world of that day went on in its normal way, being ignorant of the impending Flood.

To this Jesus added, “So shall also the coming [presence] of the son of man be.” True, the world before the Flood was indeed a wicked world. The record states, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5) “And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air.”—Gen. 6:7

“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt: for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”—Gen. 6:11-13

While the principal comparison Jesus made between the days of Noe and the time of his second presence was that in both cases the unbelieving world would be unaware of the significance of the times in which they were living. However, the Bible also indicated that in both cases it would be a time of destruction due to the sin of the people. As Genesis explains, the earth was filled with violence just prior to the Flood, and the imaginations of men’s hearts were evil, and that continually.

Two Worlds Destroyed

Peter explains that the world before the Flood was destroyed, and that a world is also destroyed in the days of the Son of man; that is, during the early years of his second presence. The language used with respect to these events is largely symbolic. For example, the earth itself was not destroyed by the Flood, but rather, a social order which Peter speaks of as “the heavens … and the earth.” (II Pet. 3:5) Then Peter explains that “the heavens and the earth, which are now … are … reserved unto fire.” (II Pet. 3:7) He also says that “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise,” and that the “earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”—II Pet. 3:10

It is generally conceded by students of prophecy that the second coming of Christ is followed by “the end of the world.” This is true—except that the world which ends is not the literal earth, but, as we have noted, a social order, symbolized in the prophecies as a “heavens” and “earth.” Today, even as it was in Noah’s day, the earth is filled with violence, and this violence is part of the symbolic fire which destroys the present sinful world.

New Heavens and New Earth

While the present evil social order is to be destroyed, and is in fact already disintegrating, the earth itself remains, and will be man’s eternal home. But there will be a new, divinely prepared social order, described by Peter when he wrote, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”—II Pet. 3:13

All of the Lord’s people who are acquainted with the promises of God look for this “new heaven and new earth.” One of the promises concerning it is recorded in Isaiah 65:17-24: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old: but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

One cannot read this precious promise of God concerning the “new heavens and new earth” which he described without realizing how vastly different conditions will be among mankind, when this “creation” is complete, from what they are today. The people will build houses and inhabit them. Now the average man and wife, with the help of a mortgage, build a house for their family; and often before the children are matured the parents die, or else they are unable to make the payments on the mortgage, and lose the home. But when the new heavens and new earth are created they shall build houses and inhabit them.

They shall also plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. In other words, there will be stability and economic security. And then the people shall long enjoy the work of their hands. How long? “As the days of a tree [will be] the days of my people.” In ancient Palestine, trees such as the cedars of Lebanon lived a very long time—through generations—and it seemed to the people that they never died, for they themselves would pass off the scene, but the trees would live on into succeeding generations. So this promise, in reality, symbolizes everlasting life for those who enjoy the blessings of the new heavens and new earth.

No More Death

In Revelation 21:1-5 we have another reference to the new heavens and new earth for which Peter said the Lord’s people are looking. We quote: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” (Rev. 21:1) The Amplified Bible renders this “former heavens” and “former earth.” Obviously this is correct, for actually the “first heavens” and the “first earth” passed away at the time of the Flood, followed by “the heaven and the earth” which are now, which are the “former” heavens and earth which are supplanted by God’s new heavens and new earth.

In the original promise of the new heaven and new earth the Lord associates a new Jerusalem. (Isa. 65:17,18) So in Revelation 21:1,2 we have the same combination of symbols. After telling of the new heaven and new earth the Revelator continues, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

The fact that this new Jerusalem comes down from God out of heaven locates the scene on the literal earth, and among men. And what happens when this occurs? The Revelator answers: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (vs. 3) Here we have more symbolic language. God himself will not dwell literally with humans here on earth. The thought is, rather, that he will extend his favor to them and, in response, the people will declare themselves as being God’s people. This is one reason, as stated by the Apostle Peter, that in the new heavens and new earth there will dwell righteousness.

The Revelator continues: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”(vs. 4) Another Old Testament promise reads, “He [God] will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. … And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God: we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”—Isa. 25:8,9

In Isaiah’s prophecy of the new heavens and new earth he gave assurance that in that new and divinely created social order long life would be the order of the day; that the Lord’s people would long enjoy the work of their hands. In the vision given to John on the Isle of Patmos he is assured that actually in the new heavens and new earth death will be destroyed altogether, and that all tears caused by death will be wiped away—“There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”—Rev. 21:4

Verse 5 reads, “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” With all things made new, it will indeed be a new earth. And just think of how extensive this thought really is! When we consider that all the evils associated with the reign of sin and death are destroyed, even our present dictionary will be outmoded, for so many words now in use will then be obsolete so far as everyday communication is concerned.

“There shall be no more death”! This will do away with the words sickness, pain, hospitals, doctors, drug stores, dentists, and undertakers, besides hundreds of other words associated with sickness, pain, and death.

War will be no more; and think of the words in the dictionary this will make obsolete! The whole world today is either plagued by war or the fear of war. With the elimination of war will come the destruction of the instruments of war: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”—Micah 4:14

No such changes as these came about when the world of Noah’s day was destroyed by the Flood. Noah and his family were brought through the Flood into the new world, but like the world before the Flood it was cursed by the reign of sin and death. Wars very quickly came into vogue, and the nations of earth have been at each other’s throats ever since, and tears have continued to flow because of the evils of human sin and selfishness. Nothing was made new!

But how different it will be in that glorious new world—the promised “new heavens” and “new earth.” Then all things will be made new. Tears will be wiped away, sickness and pain will be destroyed, and “there shall be no more death.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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